Theresa May takes over as Britain’s Prime Minister; second woman to lead country after Margaret Thatcher

David Cameron quit as PM after Britain voted to leave the European Union against his wishes.

Updated: Jul 13, 2016, 23:34 PM IST
Theresa May takes over as Britain’s Prime Minister; second woman to lead country after Margaret Thatcher
New British PM Theresa May speaks to media outside her official residence,10 Downing Street in London, Wednesday July 13, 2016.

London: Shortly after Queen Elizabeth accepted David Cameron`s resignation, Theresa May became British Prime Minister on Wednesday after being appointed by the monarch. 

Queen Elizabeth II invited Conservative Party leader to form a government during a brief meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, less than an hour after Cameron tendered his resignation to the head of state.

Under Britain`s unwritten constitution, it is up to the monarch to ask the leader of the party that commands a majority in the House of Commons to form a government.

The 59-year-old will be the second woman to lead Britain, following in the footsteps of fellow Conservative, 'Iron Lady' Margaret Thatcher.

The steely vicar`s daughter faces a daunting challenge in trying to negotiate an amicable divorce from the EU following the shock vote for Brexit on June 23.

EU leaders have said they expect May to move quickly, and French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy`s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced they will hold a summit in August on the vote.

May has indicated however that she will not be rushed into triggering the formal procedure for Brexit.

Meanwhile, earlier, Cameron today went to meet Queen Elizabeth II to tender his resignation accompanied by his wife Samantha, who he described as the "love of my life".

He also thanked her for keeping him "vaguely sane", as well as his three children Nancy, Arthur and Florence.

It's not been an easy journey and of course, we've not got every decision right. But today the country is much stronger, our economy is immeasurably stronger... For me politics has always been about public service in the national interest. It is easy to say but hard to do,"the 49-year-old said before getting into waiting cars to be driven to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, as per PTI.

Cameron gets standing ovation in Parliament

Earlier, Cameron`s last appearance in Parliament as British PM ended in a standing ovation after a bravura 36-minute performance that taunted his rivals, reflected on his legacy and confessed his love for the office cat.

Speaking in a packed Parliament, with lawmakers, media, aides and spectators jammed into every corner of the ornate debating chamber, Cameron answered questions with the air of a man looking forward to an afternoon off.

"This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. Other than one meeting this afternoon with her majesty the Queen, the diary for the rest of my day is remarkably light," he said to laughter, as his wife and their children looked on from the public gallery, as per Reuters .

Cameron, often praised for his statesman-like demeanour, cut a more relaxed figure as he laid into his political rival Jeremy Corbyn, whose own future is subject to a protracted and acrimonious battle within the opposition Labour Party.

He sought to shore up his legacy as a reforming PM, highlighting his government`s efforts to stabilise the post-financial crisis economy and the passing of gay marriage laws.

At the same time, Cameron urged his successor May to maintain close ties with the EU even while negotiating to leave it.

"My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the European Union as we can be, for the benefits of trade, of co-operation and of security," he said, as per AFP.

Cameron said he would "miss the roar of the crowd and the barbs from the opposition" that came with the job over the past six years.

But, he pointed wistfully to the capricious winds of politics that had abruptly ended his career, saying, "I was the future once."

The Conservative leader quit after Britain voted to leave the European Union against his wishes.

(With Agency inputs)